10 Best Things to Do in Cusco for Discovering Inca Heritage


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Cusco is a city that whispers the tales of the Inca empire through its cobblestone streets, ancient ruins, and vibrant traditions. It’s a place where history is not just studied but felt, as each corner and stone has a story to tell about the rich Inca heritage. From the awe-inspiring ruins that dot the landscape to the lively markets filled with colorful crafts, Cusco offers a deep dive into a culture that, although centuries old, is still very much alive today. Whether you’re exploring sacred archaeological sites or mingling with locals in the bustling San Pedro Market, Cusco invites you to step back in time and discover the wonders of the Inca civilization.

Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu stands as a testament to the ingenuity and spirit of the Inca civilization. Perched high in the Andes, this ancient city was lost to the world until its rediscovery in 1911. Exploring its terraces, temples, and panoramic views connects you to the past in a way few other places can. The journey there, whether by train or along the Inca Trail, is filled with breathtaking scenery that makes arriving at Machu Picchu all the more rewarding.

Explore the Sacsayhuamán fortress

Sacsayhuamán is an impressive testament to Incan architectural skills, with its massive, tightly interlocking stones that have stood the test of time. Just outside of Cusco, this fortress offers a glimpse into the military and ceremonial aspects of the Inca empire. The panoramic views of Cusco from the site are unparalleled, making it a popular spot for both history enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Wander through the San Pedro Market

San Pedro Market is the heart of Cusco’s daily life, a place where you can immerse yourself in the colors, smells, and tastes of the region. From fresh produce and traditional dishes to handicrafts and textiles, the market is a feast for the senses. It’s also an excellent place to interact with locals and learn about the ingredients that make up Andean cuisine.


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See the Qorikancha Temple

Qorikancha Temple, once the most important temple in the Inca Empire, was dedicated to the worship of the Sun God. Despite being partially destroyed after the Spanish conquest, the remaining structure, coupled with the colonial church built on top, offers a fascinating look at the blend of Incan and Spanish architecture. The site’s museum provides further insights into its history and significance.

Take a walk in the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is a lush, fertile region that was highly valued by the Incas for its agricultural potential. Today, its small towns and archaeological sites, set against the backdrop of towering Andean peaks, make it a must-visit for those seeking to understand the Inca’s connection to the land. Places like Pisac and Ollantaytambo offer well-preserved ruins and vibrant local markets.

Visit the Moray agricultural terraces

The Moray agricultural terraces are a striking example of Inca innovation. These circular terraces were used as a sort of agricultural laboratory, with each level creating a different microclimate to test crops. The site is a testament to the advanced understanding the Incas had of their environment and their ability to adapt to it.

Explore the Maras Salt Mines

The Maras Salt Mines have been in use since long before the Incas, providing a unique landscape of white salt pools nestled in the valley. The way the local communities harvest the salt today remains largely unchanged, offering visitors a glimpse into traditional salt mining techniques as well as the chance to purchase locally harvested salt.

Wander around the Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas is the historical and cultural center of Cusco, surrounded by colonial buildings, churches, and shops that stand on what was once the heart of the Inca capital. The square is not just a place for sightseeing but also a lively part of the city’s social life, with locals and tourists mingling in cafes and restaurants.

Visit the Inca Museum

The Inca Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Inca civilization and its predecessors. Housed in a colonial mansion, the museum’s collection includes ceramics, textiles, mummies, and gold and metalwork, offering a comprehensive overview of Andean cultures. It’s an essential stop for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of Peru’s ancient history.

Hike the Inca Trail

Hiking the Inca Trail is a journey through both the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes and the rich history of the Inca empire. The trail takes you past ancient ruins, through cloud forests, and over high passes, culminating in the arrival at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. It’s a challenging trek that rewards hikers with once-in-a-lifetime views and a deep sense of connection to the path the Incas once walked.


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